Bartlett - Established 1884 in New York City

How to Stand at the Ballet Barre

by Barbara Denise Files

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Did you know there is a proper way to hold a ballet barre?  How about the correct distance to stand from the barre?  Is the barre at the proper height for your body?  Here are some guidelines for safe and comfortable practice.

  • If your fingers grip the barre, you’re holding on too tightly.  Rest your hand on the barre lightly so that you’re able to let go and hold your balance at any time.
  • If your hands reach above your shoulders, the barre is too high for you.  Switch to a lower barre, or speak to your dance instructor about a suitable alternative.
  • If your elbow touches or rests on the barre, you’re standing too close to the barre.  Step away from the barre toward the center of the room.
  • If your elbow locks when you’re holding the barre, you’re standing too far away from the barre.  Step closer to the barre until your elbow relaxes.

Here's another helpful hint for your first dance class.

  • When working your “right side,” your left hand holds the barre.
  • When working your “left side,” your right hand holds the barre.

The "right side" of the barre refers to the side of your body that will perform the majority of the dance exercise.  If you stand on the "right side" of the barre, your right arm and leg will be the working (moving) arm and leg.  You'll stand with the right side of your body positioned closer to the center of the room and your left side closer to the barre.

When your dance teacher asks you to face the "left side," you will place your right hand on the barre.  This allows your left arm and leg to move freely in open space.

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